The rich artistic tradition of the Mentawai Islands to the west of Sumatra was, until recently, barely represented in public collections. In this lecture, Reimar Schefold will introduce his latest book, Toys for the Souls: Life and Art on the Mentawai Islands, and talk about the prehistoric background and cultural context of the art of Mentawai.
About the speaker
Reimar Schefold is professor emeritus of Anthropology and Sociology of Indonesia at the University of Leiden, and ex-Chairman and honorary member of the Royal Netherlands Institute of Southeast Asian and Caribbean Studies (KITLV). He has a long-standing interest in material culture, art, and vernacular architecture, particularly of Southeast Asia.
After studying in Basel and Munich, he obtained his PhD at Basel University with a dissertation on the art style of the Sepik district in New Guinea. He taught Anthropology in Amsterdam and Leiden, and has conducted several extensive periods of fieldwork in Indonesia: most notably among the Sakuddei of Siberut, in the Mentawai Islands; with the Batak of Sumatra; and the Sa’dan Toraja of Sulawesi. He has a special interest in art and its meaning for the people who produce it, and has been actively involved in museum exhibitions and TV-documentaries in the Netherlands, Switzerland, and USA.
His books include Lia: Das grosse Ritual auf den Mentawai-Inseln (1988) and, partly with others, Banua Toraja: Changing Patterns in Architecture and Symbolism among the Sa’dan Toraja, Sulawesi, Indonesia (1988), Indonesia in Focus (1991), Treasure Hunting: Collectors and Collections of Indonesian Artefacts (2002), Indonesian Houses, vols 1, 2 (2003, 2008), Eyes of the Ancestors: the arts of Southeast Asia at the Dallas Museum of Art, (2013), and most recently, Toys for the Souls: Life and Art on the Mentawai Islands, (2017).
This lecture is free. Seats are available on a first-come, first-served basis. No registration is required.
Image courtesy of Professor Reimar Schefold